|Blur on Chinese New Year 2015, with a big announcement...|
February 19th, which also happened to be the Chinese New Year, was a big day for music fans. Blur, second only to the Beatles as my favorite band of all time and one of the bands that has meant so much to me in my life, announced the upcoming release of their new album The Magic Whip on April 27th. To say this was unexpected would be an understatement as it was widely assumed by most of the band's diehard fans, as well as yours truly, that they had called it a day. Despite reuniting in 2009, they had only released three new songs since then and had consistently toured their greatest hits through the beginning of 2014. Some recording sessions they had announced in Hong Kong in 2013 came to naught (we'll get back to this) and with Damon's never-ending list of projects, including his excellent solo album Everyday Robots in 2014, it seemed that Blur were in the rearview mirror and getting smaller by the day. So when they dropped this bombshell on us fans, my initial response was shock followed by excitement followed by euphoria. They even gave us one of the album tracks to tide us over until April...
Now, I'm not going to get into a long and detailed post here as I've written about Blur in quite a lot of detail before, not to mention the two books on them that I've published in 2009 and 2012. In addition to the band profile and the article lamenting the end of the band in 2014 (hah!), I also posted a screed in which I was highly critical of their refusal to record new music and their seeming contentment to flog the hits around the world year after year since their reunion. This article blew up in the online Blur fan community, especially on the Blur message boards on which I am a moderator. Even the excellent RW/FF Music blog mentioned this rant of mine in their recent article on The Magic Whip. Well, I'm man enough to stand by what I wrote; I meant it at the time and I still do. That being said, I am beyond glad that they proved me wrong and that they came back with this new album. What happened is that Graham and longtime Blur producer Stephen Street went through the demos from Hong Kong and started to a put an album together. When they played the tracks to the other three guys, they all decided to make an album of it. The rest is, as they say, history. Blur will be headlining a(nother) massive show in London's Hyde Park in June and will play warm-up dates beforehand. I'm holding my breath that some American club shows will also be in the offing; it's been twelve years since I last saw Blur live and I refuse to go see them at a huge festival so if they are playing anywhere near me for what looks to be their final tour, I will be there.
I've mentioned it in other posts related to the band (which are linked above), but Blur are the Beatles of my generation that I was lucky enough to live through firsthand. While the Beatles will always be #1 to me, I grew up with Blur soundtracking my life (something which they still do). From 1994 when I was 14 and first heard a couple of songs of theirs to 1997 when I was 17 and became a full-blown fan, and now all the way to the present, I've hung on every note, every song, every everything this band has done. I was a wide-eyed college freshman when I became a true fan and now I'm a mid-30s working stiff, husband, and father of four. Through it all, the band has grown and matured along with me and has been there every step of the way. Because of this, the new album means much more to me than just new music. It's the reminder of who I was then and who I am now and everything in between. It's an old friend coming to brighten my life once again when I thought they were gone for good. Speaking of friends, I've made so many good friends through my love of this band, both in real life and online, and to be able to share in the experience of new Blur yet again with so many of these people around the world is such a joy. Even if this is the last time (and I really do think it is...it seems too perfect, and Graham has hinted as much in recent interviews), I can't think of a better way for them to go out on top. With that being said, this is going to be the longest two month wait I've had in a while, but I know it will be worth it. Despite all of their ups and downs, Blur have never let me down. They're the familiar voice that has grown up with me over the last twenty years and I know their music, which has always been there for me, will continue to thrill me for the rest of my life.
Is it April yet?